BRIGHTON: The Shondes’ Brand of Feminist Pop-Punk Has an Optimistic Edge

shondes

I love when I find a band that simultaneously rocks and makes me smile. Brooklyn’s The Shondes bring a unique outlook to their music—a feminist, Jewish punk band with catchy melodies, soaring violin, epic lyrics and earnest hopefulness. Their lead single, “Everything Good,” from their most recent album, Brighton, exemplifies this style. The lyrics are sweet and optimistic, supported by the romantic violin, but the energetic drums, fuzzy guitar, and lead singer Louisa Solomon’s powerful vocals give the song a punk edge.

The entire album is filled with incredibly tuneful melodies, a particular strength of the band’s songwriting, and the energy is overall a little 80s without the cheesy synths, reminiscent of Blondie, the Pretenders, and even anthem rock like Bruce Springsteen. Solomon’s voice in particular reminds me of Chrissie Hynde, with its ability to somehow be passionate and cool at the same time. And Elijah Oberman’s violin touches are always thoughtful and always strong—I especially love the pizzicato in “Wrong Kind,” a sing-along pop-punk anthem.

Other standouts on the album include “True North,” featuring a nod to their Jewish influences with the lyric “next year in Jerusalem” and an epic breakdown at the end; “Unstill Ones,” which is impossible not to sing along to between the background “oohs” and the “fuck that noise” refrain; and “Nightwatch,” perhaps their most adventurous offering. The guitar is gorgeous, the lyrics sweet and earnest, and the layering of ambient wails, violin, and sparse drums is tasteful and satisfyingly builds to the end. There is much to love about The Shondes and Brighton, from their inclusive and celebratory message to their catchy punk style—but ultimately, they simply make me happy and I like them. To me, that’s the joy of reviewing and discovering new music, and I’m thrilled to have found them.

SOUND: Catchy, energetic punk rock, with a little anthem rock thrown in; similar to Joan Jett, Blondie, The Pretenders, The Bangles, Bruce Springsteen

LISTEN TO: “Everything Good,” “Unstill Ones,” “Nightwatch”

Buy the album on Bandcamp

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Watch their video for “Everything Good:”

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GOLDEN TONGUE: Magana’s Debut EP is an Intimate, Passionate Thrill That Leaves Us Wanting More

magana

Brooklyn artist Magana’s debut EP, Golden Tongue, will be released on Oct. 28, and it’s a tantalizing taste of what this compelling artist has in store for us in the future. Her indie rock/pop style is similar to other eclectic singer-songwriters like St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten, and Angel Olsen, with a bit of 90s alt-girl like PJ Harvey and Mazzy Star thrown in for good measure. The four-song EP kicks off with “Get It Right,” where she blends poetic lyrics with bluntly honest directives like “Get it right if you’re gonna, gonna waste my time, “ and “make up your damn mind.” The harmony is subtly surprising, and her voice is arresting from the first note. This is one of two singles you can listen to prior to the album’s release on Oct 28th, so click here to check it out!

The other single available to listen to now by clicking here is “Inches Apart,” an intimate song which builds beautifully from simple, clean electric guitar and Magana’s voice to a sparse yet lush synth soundscape. This song and the next, “The World Doesn’t Know,” demonstrate Magana’s remarkable ability to craft a musical journey that truly moves the listener through the song to a different place than where they started. The album closes with my personal favorite, “Golden Tongue,” featuring Magana’s sweet yet raucous vocal performance, the most complex and compelling drum groove of the album, and a rich, synth-y breakdown at the end with flashes of Radiohead circa OK Computer. On top of all that, it delivers a gut-punch of a final line in the chorus, “And you’ll never even know / that you’re lonely until you’re old.”

Overall, Golden Tongue is a satisfying glimpse into this Magana’s world and her potential for the future. We hear her evocative vocals, feel the emotion in her lyrics, and sense the intimacy and power in her instrumentation. If I had one criticism, it would be that this album is too short—as each song ended, I felt myself wishing for more, and indeed, with most of the songs clocking in around 3 minutes or under and the EP itself only being four songs, it’s on the short side. However, this may actually be the smartest move she’s made on the entire album, because I truly can’t wait to hear what she does next. For her first effort, Magana accomplishes what any EP should do—put her sound in our heads and leave us wanting more more more.

SOUND: Dreamy, dramatic indie rock/pop in the vein of St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten, and Daughter

LISTEN TO: The whole thing—it’s only four songs! But especially “Golden Tongue” and “Get It Right”

Preorder Golden Tongue here: https://maganarama.bandcamp.com/album/golden-tongue-ep

Links to all of her social are below, and stay tuned for her album release on October 28th!

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Preview two tracks from the album here:

Get It Right: Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Spotify

 

 

Inches Apart: Bandcamp / Soundcloud / YouTube